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ESPN FC Posted by ESPN staff
Apr 19, 2014

Gerrard 'best in Europe' in his position

Brendan Rodgers has hailed Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard as the best holding midfielder in Europe and insists he wouldn't swap him for any other player.

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Gerrard, 33, has been instrumental in Liverpool's surge towards a first title in 24 years, adapting to a new deep-lying midfield role handed to him by Rodgers in January and scoring 14 goals.

Following Liverpool's 3-2 win over title rivals Manchester City at Anifled last weekend, Gerrard called his team-mates into a huddle and demanded they "go again" at Norwich on Sunday.

Now Rodgers feels Gerrard has never been more influential on the pitch. He said: "I think his form sometimes gets lost a wee bit with Steven because his leadership quality in the team is there for all to see.

"We mustn't forget that he's arguably the best in European football in a controlling role at this moment in time.

"There's not many players who can do what he can do - be one of the best attacking midfield players in Europe and then switch to be arguably the best controlling player.

"You look at the holding players in European football now at the top teams, I wouldn't swap him for any of them, because of what he can give the team.

"He's a playmaker but he's unique in that he can also defend. I think what he probably doesn't get enough credit for as well is his reading of the game.

"For as long as I knew Steven Gerrard before I came in here, people would ask 'Was he a player that just couldn't fit in a team structure?' He was the number 10 who needed to roam because he was so good, he needed to do that. He could lift the team and carry the team from whatever position he played.

"But the feature now is about the team and he's in a structure he's happy with. He's got some top talents around him that can exploit his qualities and along with his intelligence and reading of the game, his physical condition in the role is very good as well. I could see him playing in there because of those playmaking skills. He can orchestrate the game."

Rodgers will be forced to change his midfield at Carrow Road with Jordan Henderson starting a three-match suspension after being sent off for a studs-up challenge on Samir Nasri last weekend.

Henderson has emerged as a key player in Rodgers' first team this season, with the Liverpool manager insisting he still has a vital role to play in the team's title bid.

"He's such an honest guy and he actually got the ball first but we've spoken about it and he understands the reasons why he got sent off, which was really unfortunate," said Rodgers.

"But Jordan will still travel with the team. I've told him he's a vital member of the group and he might not be able to affect the next three games on the field but he's going to be very important for our changing room, our travelling and our hotels because he's very much a part of us.

"We'll lose him on the field but we can't lose his personality off the field as well which is why he'll still travel and be a part of what we're doing."

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